Balancing everyday life with a child with special needs can be challenging. And, when a medical or dental need arises, it can make things all that more difficult. For this reason, it is easy for parents to set dental care for kids with special needs to the wayside. It’s not that they think the dental problem will go away, but the idea of tackling the issue and creating a positive experience for the child, parent, and dentist can be pretty daunting. Parents need guidance to find a dentist who optimally manages dental care for kids with special needs.

7 Tips for Finding a Dentist Who Optimally Manages Dental Care for Kids with Special Needs

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you know that it takes someone extra special to provide love and care for your kid. And that holds for everyone who interacts with your child, including educators, doctors, dentists, and more. Therefore, if your child requires special dental care or just a routine checkup, you might be looking for just a few unique traits to ensure your child will have the best dental experience possible.

We’ve put together a list of 7 tips that parents of kids with special needs should look for.

1. Find a dental home you can stick with.

Look for a dentist who can become your dental home. Many young children struggle with a change to their routine, which can especially be the case with children who have special needs. There is a greater risk of walking into a practice that doesn’t understand your child, so look for a dentist who can optimally manage dental care for kids with special needs and has experience doing so.

2. Go with your instincts.

Look for a dentist who makes you feel comfortable. If their chairside manner is anything less than you desire, it means you should keep looking. Your dentist should be happy and willing to answer any questions you might have, and should be thorough in explaining exactly what will take place at your child’s appointment. You are the one who knows your child best, and you will know if a dentist is going to make them feel comfortable and at ease.

3. Look for a dental partner.

Parents of kids with special needs serve as far more than just their parents and caregivers, they are often their advocates as well. Thus, parents need to look for a dentist who will partner with them closely, working together to formulate a treatment plan and approach that will work best for their child.

4. Expect some detective work.

Your child’s oral health is the gateway to their overall health. It is essential to find a dentist who will look at all of your child’s medical history and work with your child’s other doctors to come up with the best overall treatment plan for them.

5. Consider sedation dentistry.

Many adults require a little extra help to relax in the dentist’s chair, so it’s no wonder that some children with special needs may find it hard to feel at ease. Sedation dentistry provides a great way to help your child feel more comfortable and less anxious. Not only that, but sedation dentistry can make it easier for your dentist to provide your child with the best dental treatment.

6. Work towards an at-home oral health routine.

We know that for some kids, parents and guardians need to be more involved in their at-home tooth brushing regimen than with others. And, that’s just fine. The key is to help reinforce the importance of a dental hygiene routine, including brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Prevention is truly the best medicine, so the more you can do to help your child take care of their teeth, the better.

7. Understand how your child’s overall health can affect their oral health.

Your dentist should understand that Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders are often linked with dental delays in tooth eruption—sometimes up to two years. These children with special needs also commonly develop malformed or extra teeth. Crowding and poor alignment can leave any child more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay as it is harder to keep these teeth clean. When a severe intellectual disability or cerebral palsy is present, these children may also grind their teeth (an ailment referred to as bruxism), making the teeth flat as the enamel breaks down. All these considerations will be foremost in the mind of a dentist experienced in looking after children with special needs.

Dr. Jeff has experience with children who have special needs.

Dr. Jeff has been honored in “D Magazine’s” list of Best Dentists in Dallas and as a “Texas Monthly” Super Dentist. Not only that, but Dr. Jeff has received special training in the dental care of both chronically ill children and children with special needs. These are critical points to consider when choosing a pediatric dentist near you, especially if you seek dental care for a child with a chronic illness or need a dentist for kids with special needs.

We make it easy for you to schedule an appointment for your child. Simply request an appointment using our simple online form, or give our office a call. We would be more than happy to talk to you about our unique approach to helping kids with special needs. We know that it is essential we provide optimal care to each of our patients, but our patients with special needs require an additional level of care that we are happy and well-qualified to provide. We look forward to meeting you and your child.